Eating-up Stratford
Bite by Byte

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Raising Cane on the Stratford Victorian Christmas Trail!

I've always been the kind of person who starts thinking about Christmas on Christmas Eve, when I traditionally do all my shopping. But when you live with a two-year-old and a four-year-old, it's hard not to get in the Christmas spirit early and often.  Last weekend we all journeyed together along the Victorian Christmas Trail - the $20 pass lets you pick 8 stops from a choice of 16 of Stratford's most festive local spots, each offering a special gift to Yuletide travelers.

Our first stop in the morning was for caffeine - and a couple of hot chocolates and a gingerbread man! Balzac's Coffee hooked us up with a complementary bevvy to set us off on our adventure.

Right across the street from Balzac's is Chocolate Barrs, where confectionery artist Derek Barr was at work making giant candy canes by hand. There was a real Santa's Workshop vibe as we watched him and his team create these hefty tricoloured holiday hooks. The video (above) doesn't convey the whole experience: I think the peppermint oil vapours in the air (that's what gives candy canes their signature minty flavour) will keep my airways cleared for the rest of the winter!

Just off of of Ontario Street, Smallmart is a really cute little store full of kitschy and vintage stuff. This holiday season visitors to our bathroom will enjoy hand soap that smells like eggnog (above)! No tasting kids!

Lisa and I were in Barcelona not long ago and we fell in love with Spanish cuisine. When we visited Kitchen Connaisseur I immediately knew what spice mix I was going to pick for our gift: Spanish Spice Blend.

We sent Lisa in to Alexandra's Spa on Erie Street to get some Christmas pampering. She came out with some bath salts, some organic tea, and a voucher she can put towards a holiday treatment!

David from Turnbull & Stewart (left) was filling the store's showroom with incredible smells as he prepared some soup and hot cider for all the tourists who embarked on the Victorian Christmas Trail. Fisher (right) loved the Mary MacLeod's Shortbread owner Ken gave him.

Your Local Market Co-op was giving out popcorn that was still on the cob! We'll put it in a bag in the microwave and then string the popped kernels for tree garlands (unless we eat them first!).

The next day, I was at the Slow Food Sunday Market in the historic cellar at Anything Grows - everyone's favourite gardening & food boutique. Christmas Trail trekkers receive a set of four extremely-lifelike grasshopper magnets when they stop by... they made for eye catching ornaments on our sign (look closely above). By the way, for those seeking to stock up the pantry for Christmas with Good, Clean and Fair food, there is a special market this Friday, December 23 from 3pm-6pm at Anything Grows on St. Patrick Street!

After finishing our eight stops on the Victorian Christmas Trail there was only one thing left to do - hang the giant candy cane on the Christmas tree!

Merry Merry and Happy Happy to everyone this holiday season from the Stacey crew!

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